How Wayne Gretzky, with just one wish, changed how the on-ice camera operator works during hockey games

The World Junior Championship is always one of the highlights of the year. To see the future of hockey play together and against each other, battling for their country, is just great, and this year’s tournament has been a pleasure.

Connor Bedard has been absolutely flying on the ice and has beaten several new records. But something completely different caught the fans’ attention as well. During the broadcast, the viewers at home have been closer to the players than ever before.

The camera gets up close during every timeout, every goal celebration, and right in the players’ faces after every game. And it’s all thanks to two people.

One: Nathan Eidse, TSN’s on-ice camera operator.

And two: Wayne Gretzky.

Nathan Eidse is dressed in all white, from head to two, and even has his camera camouflaged in white. He’s on the ice as soon as he gets the chance to capture the players’ emotions.

He’s become some of a legend during this tournament in Halifax. Some fans have even dressed up as him during the games.

“It’s not lost on me that I have the best seat in the house,” Eidse said, per CBC. “It’s pretty neat to be in the middle of everything.”

So, what does Wayne Gretzky have to do with the on-ice camera operator? The first time TSN tried having a guy on the ice was during the under-18 Hlinka Gretzky Cup in 2018.

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Wayne Gretzky was a fan, but he had a specific wish.

“We were at the hotel after one of the games with my director, [play-by-play man] Gord Miller, and Wayne Gretzky,” Eidse said. “Wayne Gretzky was saying, ‘I love it … but we’ve got to cover that camera in white.’

“That’s where the white camera cover came from.”

Source: Getty Images

So what’s happening now during the JWC actually tracks back to Wayne Gretzky making a simple request, and it’s been a hit. Even the teams like it.

“He’s getting cool shots of the boys,” Canadian defenseman Brandt Clarke said. “I’ve seen him almost get bumped into.

“When I scored against Germany, I smiled for him.”

“Weird the first time,” Austrian forward Vinzenz Rohrer said. “Hats off to this guy. He always sneaks through everybody.”

“Pretty camouflaged,” Swedish goalie Carl Lindbom added. “The end product is amazing.”

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